Planting Memories

Rounding out my third year in New York, I’ve started noticing something special. Memories have increasingly attached themselves to locations. Walking down 1st Avenue reminds me of summer dates, Madison Square Park conversations over Gasoline Alley coffee, meeting Dave and Ryan alongside Riverside Drive at ungodly hours for Saturday bike rides.

weekend forty two

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The density of the city allows me to plant memories and walk through the forest into which they grow. As I move from neighborhood to neighborhood, each one watermarks a chapter of my life. My first sublet in the Lower East Side, being the seemingly only unmarried, non-guardian of a child and/or pet in Park Slope, and the reunion with my former university roommates here on 23rd Street and Avenue C. This got me thinking about other memory anchors and two came to mind: Live Photos and music.

Live Photos are three-second clips passively recorded around every photo taken on iOS. They have the magical ability to take you back to the instant a picture was taken by capturing beginnings of smiles, background laughter, and other small details that would’ve otherwise been lost. These videos add a third dimension to the previously two-dimensional scrolls of the Camera Roll.

Music is another powerful anchor. It almost losslessly compresses entire seasons of our lives.

Your Heart” fixed itself to my last undergraduate final. “Redux Starting Again” was on repeat as I wrote a friend’s 21st birthday card. “Chords of Life” backdropped a commute one evening when New York started to feel like home.

Batching these tracks into playlists creates an audiobook of my inner life. Maybe there was something to the old make-your-crush-a-mixtape sign of affection.


The anchoring between memories and media is fascinating, whether physical (locations) or digital—with Live Photos and music. These anchors form a sort of forest. When revisiting old neighborhoods, opening the Camera Roll, or digging up old playlists, I’m walking through memories.

Walking through memories

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Special thanks to Justin for feedback on early drafts of this post.